Cristiano Ronaldo has broken his silence with an Instagram rant after shock claims he wanted to quit Portugal’s World Cup squad, The Sun reports.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, 37, started his country’s opening three games in Qatar.
But he was then left out of Fernando Santos’ XI for the Switzerland game, before his replacement Goncalo Ramos bagged a hat-trick in a 6-1 victory.
On Thursday, Portuguese outlet Record claimed Ronaldo made a threat to leave the World Cup altogether after being benched.
The Portuguese FA categorically denied the reports in a statement.
Now the forward, who is a free agent after leaving Manchester United following his explosive interview with Piers Morgan, has delivered a statement of his own.
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Sharing a snap of the squad, including himself as a sub, celebrating a goal from Tuesday, he wrote: “A group too close to be broken by outside forces. A nation too brave to let itself be frightened by any adversary.
“A team in the truest sense of the word, which will fight for the dream until the end! Believe with us! Strength, Portugal!”
The Portuguese Football Federation has also come out in defence of Ronaldo, releasing a statement to refute any suggestion Ronaldo threatened to quit the tournament.
“The FPF clarifies that at no time did the captain of the national team, Cristiano Ronaldo, threaten to leave the national team during the stay in Qatar,” the statement read.
“Every day, Cristiano Ronaldo is building up a unique track record of service to the national team and the country, which must be respected and which speaks to the unquestionable degree of commitment to the national team.”
Following Ronaldo’s second half substitution in the group stage match with South Korea, the ex-Man Utd forward was reported as telling Santos “you’re in a f*****g hurry to take me away”.
He swiftly refuted those claims by insisting he was actually speaking to a South Korean player who was urging him to leave the field quickly.
He said: “What happened was before my substitution, the South Korea player told me to get off quickly.
“I told him to shut up as he doesn’t have that authority. There was no disagreement [with the coach].”
But Ronaldo could not avoid the fact that he sulked while being taken off, leaving boss Santos unimpressed.
Following Ramos’ hat-trick in the last-16, he is expected to keep his place at the expense of Ronaldo.
Portugal take on Morocco in the World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.
– This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.